This is an extraordinary example of the iconic "On the Rocky Mountains" deluxe factory panel scene engraved Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action rifle that was manufactured in 1871. This Model 1866 rifle has the flared receiver front, moderate curve at the rear of the frame and serial number stamped on the lower tang behind the trigger. The rifle has a full octagon barrel and full length magazine. The barrel has a nickel silver front sight blade and round top, Henry style folding leaf rear sight with center notch and elevator bar stop screw. The upper receiver tang is factory drilled for a tang sight with filler screws present. Factory sling swivels are mounted on the stock and forearm tip. The crescent buttplate has a hinged butt trapdoor. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped: "WINCHESTER'S-REPEATING ARMS. NEW HAVEN. CT./KING'S-IMPROVEMENT-PATENTED-MARCH 29. 1866. OCTOBER 16. 1860" in two lines. The serial number "79862" is stamped on the lower tang in an engraved ribbon surrounded by flourishes. The left side of the tang is marked “XXXX”. The brass receiver, buttplate and forearm tip are gold plated, and the barrel and magazine are blued. The loading gate and bolt have a fire blue finish, and the hammer, trigger and lever are color casehardened. The frame and buttplate screws are fire blue. Quite impressively, the full serial number is marked on the inside of the buttplate and the stock inlet. The stock and forearm are extraordinarily rare fancy grade birdseye maple with a high gloss piano finish. The forearm tip, receiver and buttplate heel feature deluxe, presentation grade scroll and border engraving with four highly detailed game scenes. The left side of the receiver has a mule deer in a circle with elaborate borders, and the left side plate is engraved with a bear hunting scene entitled "ON THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS". The right side plate has a round panel scene that depicts a buck and doe mule deer in a woodland glade, and a round panel on the forward portion of the receiver depicts a hound on point. The area surrounding the game scenes, top and bottom of the receiver, upper and lower tang, sides of the forearm tip and buttplate heel are extensively engraved with highly detailed scrollwork on a stippled background bordered with waved lines, circles and dot motifs. A fox is incorporated in the scrollwork on the right rear of the receiver, and a running hare is engraved on the left rear of the receiver. The game scenes on this rifle are very similar to those on Model 1866 rifles engraved by Conrad F. Ulrich. However, a detailed description of this rifle prepared by Winchester engraving expert R.L. Wilson suggests that this rifle was engraved by John Ulrich. This rifle is complete with a French-fitted, burl walnut, brass bound case with ebony trim on the edges. The case interior is lined with green velvet and contains four 26-round cartridge blocks with eight cartridges, screwdriver and spare handle and a compartment with wooden lid with a four piece Winchester jointed steel cleaning rod. This rifle is illustrated on page 144 of "Winchester Engraving" by R.L. Wilson. The Wilson description with this rifle states: "In rarity, quality, design, condition and importance serial number 79862 ranks among the finest of Model 1866 deluxe Winchester firearms. The rifle is also featured in George Madis' "The Winchester Book" on page 76.
Exceptionally fine overall. The barrel and magazine retain 85% plus of the original blue finish with the balance having aged to a plum-blue patina. The barrel legend is crisp. The loading gate has 70% of the original nitre blue finish, and substantial amounts are present on the breech bolt. Most of the mottled case colors remain on the hammer. The case colors on the trigger and lever have aged to a brown patina. The delicate original gold-plated finish on the forearm tip, receiver and buttplate shows wear on contact points but remains at least 90% complete. The intricate and flawlessly-executed game scenes, scrollwork and borders are deep and crisp. The rarely encountered birdseye maple stock and forearm are both excellent and retain at least 95% of the piano finish. The fancy grain walnut case is good overall with scattered, minor scratches and handing marks. The ebony trim-pieces on the ends of the lid have been removed but are present in the case storage compartment. The case interior is very good overall. The lining is clean and bright. Wear is limited to several small tears from contact with the rifle hammer, muzzle and sling swivels. This is a stunning example of the highest grade of a Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle. This rifle was created to display the quality of firearms manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. After the passage of more than 140 years, it continues to achieve that goal. Provenance: The Press Collection and Robert M. Lee Collection.
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